Tracks that are used to unload freight cars to horse drawn wagons are known as "team tracks." (From "team of horses", I presume.) Downers Grove, IL, (DG) had a set of freight tracks south of its train depots. The downtown district developed south of those freight tracks. The railroad would set (park) boxcars on these tracks. There was enough land next to the tracks that a horse drawn wagon could be parked next to that boxcar and the cargo could easily be transferred from the boxcar to the wagon.
Team tracks were not used by just the DG businesses. Sears would deliver all of the material needed to build a house in 1-3 boxcars after you ordered one from a catalog of houses. There were about 300 "Sears homes" in DG. One reason why DG has so many is because it had those good team tracks south of the train station. In fact, most of the homes were built within 4 blocks of the station. (Roadside)
Below is a photograph the Railroad Park in DG. The park was on the northeast corner of where Main Street crosses the tracks.You can see the freight tracks in the background from this view because the new (1912) station had not yet been built. I count at least 7 cars waiting to be unloaded by local merchants and/or house builders. And a picture of the residents shoveling snow off the freight tracks reminds us that everybody was dependent on the railroad for delivering coal for heat in the winter.
|DG Historical Society|
In the satellite photo below, some of the new office buildings and their parking lot are on the right. The big white building and the adjacent parking lot are part of the old lumber yard. It is now owned by a landscape company. The angled brown strip on the lower-right corner of the parking lot was the lead to the team tacks.
|ILHAP BWS 3-9|
When I was in Plant City, FL, I could not figure out what a small park next to the tracks had been used for. I was wondering if it had coaling and water towers to service the engines while the trains were parked at the depot. Now I think that land was used for team tracks.
Update: A comment by Joe:
Downers Grove was never the western terminus for all commuter trains. The CB&Q's hometown is Aurora, and their major shop buildings were located there. Some commuter trains ran only to Riverside, some to Downers Grove, and some all the way to Aurora. When diesels replaced steam on the suburban trains in the 1950s, Riverside and Downers Grove yards were bypassed all commuter trains laid over at Aurora. However, if you look closely at today's Metra schedule, you'll note that during the morning and evening rush hours, several trains still change directions at Congress Park and Downers Grove, continuing a century-and-a-half-old traffic pattern.
More than likely, the railroad hung onto the eastern half of the old commuter yard, either hoping for some future use for it, or because nobody wanted to buy the property. It was only in the past 15 years that the office buildings were built and the lawn care company moved in.
|Ken McLemore posted|
Amite, La. Circa 1910 Credit: LSU Libraries
Dennis DeBruler I've studied where team tracks used to be in towns, but this is the first photo I have seen that shows how important they were in the horse&wagon (i.e. before trucks) days.